This afternoon a federal jury in Alexandria, Va., decided that former U.S. Representative William Jefferson, D-La., should forfeit $470,000 and 30 million shares of stock he had obtained through illegal activities.
During his seven-week trial, prosecutors claimed Jefferson, who represented New Orleans for 18 years until he was voted out of office last year, had sought hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes relating to business ventures, mainly in Africa. Those ventures included a sugar plant in Nigeria, telecommunications deals in Nigeria and Ghana, oil concessions in Equatorial Guinea, and satellite transmission contracts in Botswana, Equatorial Guinea and the Republic of Congo.
Announcing the indictment in June 2007, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Chuck Rosenberg, called the schemes "complex" but the essence of the case "simple: Mr. Jefferson corruptly traded on his good office, and on the Congress where he served as a member of the United States House of Representatives, to enrich himself and his family through a pervasive pattern of fraud, bribery and corruption that spanned many years and two continents."
During the trial the jury saw video of a July 30, 2005, meeting in a parking lot of the Ritz Carlton in Arlington, Va., where Jefferson accepted a briefcase from businesswoman Lori Mody, who, by then, was cooperating with the FBI, with $100,000 in marked bills.
The critical, and most memorable, part of the investigation took place when FBI agents raided Jefferson's Washington, D.C., home and recovered $90,000 from his freezer, allegedly, read the indictment, "as part of the front-end bribe payment" to pay the Nigerian vice president.
The cash "was separated into $10,000 increments wrapped in aluminum foil and concealed in various frozen food containers," the indictment noted.
Jefferson could face up to 20 years in prison; he remains free pending sentencing, tentatively set for Oct. 30.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this reporting.